Community Leaders Call for More Investment and Focus on Rhode Island’s Nonprofit Sector

Several community leaders — Mario Bueno of Progreso Latino, Anthony Hubbard of YouthBuild Preparatory Academy, Cortney Nicolato of United Way, and Daniel Schliefer of New Urban Arts — published a commentary piece in the Boston Globe on the importance of investing in the capacity and sustainability of the nonprofit sector.

Rhode Island can no longer overlook, and underfund, its nonprofit sector

Over the last 19 months, Rhode Island’s nonprofit organizations have been the heart, hands and feet of Rhode Island’s relief and recovery efforts.  They provided food and shelter to Rhode Islanders in need. Helped underserved communities access testing and vaccines.  Supported children and families with the challenges of distance learning.  Provided physical and behavioral health care.  Helped isolated seniors connect with loved ones and services.  Provided support and training for small businesses and social entrepreneurs.  Trained workers for new jobs.  Uplifted somber days with beautiful music and art.

In some ways, the last year-and-a-half has been a story of unprecedented commitment and heroism. Faced with the confluence of health, economic, and racial justice crises, Rhode Island nonprofits rose to the challenge of skyrocketing need. At great personal and organizational cost, they overcame public health restrictions, inadequate staffing, physical and emotional exhaustion, and fundraising limitations to deliver services in innovative ways. They were a lifeline to thousands of Rhode Islanders during their darkest moments.

In other ways, the commitment and heroism displayed by our state’s nonprofits during the pandemic is completely normal. It is what happens when organizations are driven by mission and collective social benefit.

Every single day, pandemic or not, quiet, essential work is done across Rhode Island by nonprofit organizations.  Skilled, dedicated, compassionate staff work with limited resources to care for our neighbors, empower our children, and build flourishing communities.  Community-based organizations provide the expertise, energy, and innovation to make the state’s vision for strong, equitable, prosperous cities and towns a reality. Every. Single. Day.

And every day, whether in times of crisis or plenty, the state depends on these same nonprofits to make Rhode Island lives and communities better.  Yet, at nearly every turn, this vital sector is under-resourced, stretched thin, and often taken for granted.

Like the steel beams that undergird our bridges, the crucial work of our state’s nonprofits is so integral to the health and well-being of our communities that it can easily be overlooked.  But like our physical infrastructure, our “civic infrastructure” of unheralded nonprofits, collaborative networks, and community-based initiatives cannot continue to carry the weight of our state’s critical needs without comprehensive, long-term investment.

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RI Arts and Humanities Councils Award Nearly $1 Million in Federal Funds to 121 Culture, Humanities, Arts Nonprofits

Some 121 RI culture, humanities and arts nonprofits have received grants from the RI Culture, Humanities and Arts Recovery Grant (RI CHARG) program, a historic collaborative partnership between the State Council on the Arts (RISCA) and the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (Humanities Council). The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded $968,000 in assistance to Rhode Island from their American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and is not part of the $1.1 billion in ARPA funding awarded to the state.

Image: Map of RI CHARG grant recipients across the state.

These federally appropriated cultural assistance funds administered by RISCA and the Humanities Council provide general operating support grants of $8,000 each to 121 culture, humanities, and arts nonprofits:

  • 95% are small to midsize and/or Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) centered organizations;
  • 65% are organizations based outside the city of Providence; and
  • More than 25% are first-time grantees.

The Councils designed the RI CHARG program to help RI’s culture, humanities, and arts nonprofits prevent, prepare, respond, and recover from hardships suffered due to the pandemic. In keeping with federal agencies’ priority on equity, inclusion, and access efforts and supporting small- to mid-size organizations, the funding priorities were to support BIPOC centered organizations and nonprofits with annual budgets under $500,000.

A list of grant recipients is available at www.arts.ri.gov and www.rihumanities.org.

Nonprofits Receive Nearly $450,000 to Help Rhode Islanders Cope with Continuing Effects of COVID-19 Crisis

The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded nearly $450,000 in grants to help Rhode Islanders cope with the continuing effects of the COVID-19 crisis. With these latest grants, the Foundation has awarded more than $21 million in pandemic relief since March 2020.

Grant recipients were:

  • Beautiful Day
  • Be the Change
  • Be Great For Nate
  • Cambodian Society of Rhode Island
  • Centro de Innovacion Mujer Latina
  • College Visions
  • Hope & Main
  • John Hope Settlement House
  • Justice Assistance
  • New Bridges for Haitian Success
  • Oasis International
  • Pawtucket Central Falls Development Corp.
  • Project Weber/RENEW
  • Rhode Island Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts
  • Rhode Island Rescue Ministeries
  • RiverzEdge Arts Project
  • Saint Rose’s Church Corporation
  • Southside Community Land Trust
  • Stages of Freedom
  • Sophia Academy
  • South County Habitat for Humanity
  • The Herren Project
  • The Parent Support Network of Rhode Island
  • The Providence Center
  • The Samaritans of Rhode Island
  • The San Miguel School
  • The Village Common

With this round of funding, Foundation has awarded more than $7.5 million in grants to more than 150 nonprofit organizations since launching its COVID-19 Response Fund last year.

RI State Council on the Arts Awards 156 Grants Totaling Over $800,000

Over 150 arts organizations in Rhode Island received grants from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) totaling $878,942 in funding.

Funding for the grants came from the General Assembly and federal funds through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).  Most required a match of contributions from businesses, individuals, and from ticket sales.

Fifty two of the grants went to individual artists, and the rest went to arts and cultural organizations, arts education programs, teaching artists in healthcare and education, culture workers, and other community projects.

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Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Announces Blue Angel Community Partners

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) announced the 13 community partners for its tenth annual day of service this fall to support the health and well-being of Rhode Islanders.

Since the day’s inception, BCBSRI employees have signed up to provide support for tasks at 118 service day projects, including curating outdoor spaces, packaging footwear for children impacted by homelessness, building affordable and safe homes, creating meal kits for distribution by local food banks and conducting impactful projects virtually.

In addition to volunteer support, project sites will receive a financial contribution of $5,000 from BCBSRI to support their work. Since the inaugural Blue across Rhode Island in 2012, employees have provided more than 30,000 volunteer hours and the company has donated more than $605,000 in funding to nearly 70 agencies around the state.

Recognized nationally as a “Best in Class” volunteer initiative, Blue across Rhode Island has become not only a signature event for BCBSRI employees, but also an invaluable resource for the organizations and those involved – making a lasting impact on the lives of more than 133,000 people throughout the state.

The local organizations selected for Blue across Rhode Island 2021 and the projects BCBSRI employees will work on include 134 Collaborative, Amenity Aid, Boys & Girls Club of Northern Rhode Island, Children’s Friend, Gotta Have Sole Foundation, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Providence, South County Habitat for HumanityHappy Hope Foundation, Hope Alzheimer’s Center, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, Partnership for Providence Parks, Recs & Streetscapes, Playworks New England, Riverzedge Arts. 

BankNewport Awards $212,000 in Grants to Local Businesses and Nonprofits

BankNewport has distributed $212,000 in grants focused on food insecurity, health services, education and skills training, and underserved populations, in support of nonprofits that had their operations and outreach impacted by the pandemic. Among the notable awards is a $100,000 grant to the Newport County YMCA for its Building Campaign.

The grant recipients are Comprehensive Community Action Program, East Bay Food Pantry, Newport Hospital Foundation’s Expansion of the Vanderbilt Rehabilitation Center, Inspiring Minds, Providence Public Library, RI Philharmonic Orchestra and Music School, San Miguel School, Star Kids Scholarship Program, Newport County YMCA Building Campaign, Big Brothers Big Sisters RI, College Visions, Jonnycake Center for Hope, St. Vincent DePaul Society, St. Joseph, Newport, Visiting Nurse Home & Hospice, VNA of Care New England and Project Goal.

Citizens Awards $150,000 in Financial Education Grants, Announces Partnership with Girls Who Code

Citizens Bank announced $150,000 in grants to Rhode Island nonprofits through the Citizens Helping Citizens Manage Money program, to facilitate financial education programs across the state.  Grantees include Connecting for Children and Families, Pawtucket Central Falls Development, Progreso Latino, and Woonsocket Neighborhood Development Corporation.

Citizens also announced a partnership with Girls Who Code to help 10th, 11th, and 12th grade girls learn computer science skills to make an impact in their community while learning more about careers in technology. The bank will sponsor the organization’s Summer Immersion Program (SIP), a free two-week virtual program where participants will learn to code in a supportive environment, gaining critical leadership skills.

The SIP virtual program will serve as many as 6,000 students around the world. It is open to rising sophomore, junior, and senior girls and no prior computer science experience is required. The organization will also release a self-paced program alongside the traditional virtual model—breaking down barriers for highest-need students to participate asynchronously with support from Girls Who Code teachers and coaches. In eight years, Girls Who Code has reached more than 500 million people globally and 300,000 girls through in-person programming, and is on track to achieve gender parity in computer science by 2027.

SIP is free and need-based stipends of up to $300 are available to those who qualify, in order to provide assistance in lieu of paid opportunities such as a summer job or a paid internship.  Current 9th -11th-grade girls and non-binary students are eligible to apply. For the second year in a row, Girls Who Code will run their SIP virtually, citing significant gains achieved when it first ran online in 2020 in response to COVID-19.  Students across the U.S. can apply online at www.girlswhocode.com/sipapply.  Check out the Girls Who Code SIP Flyer or join a webinar to learn more.

This partnership is part of the commitment Citizens announced last summer that includes providing grants and charitable support for immediate and longer-term initiatives aimed at supporting underserved communities through technology, education and digital literacy initiatives. It also includes more than $500 million in incremental financing and capital for small businesses, housing, and other development in predominately minority communities. More information on Citizens commitment to social equity can be found here.

RI Foundation Raises $1.3 Million to Increase Teachers of Color in Providence Schools

Providence Public Schools, RIDE will use the funding to hire more than 125 teachers of color over the next five years

The Rhode Island Foundation has raised $3.1 million to increase the number of teachers of color in Providence public schools. Students of color represent 80 percent of enrollment in the district while just 20 percent of teachers are members of minority groups.

The funding will be used to offer candidates a college loan-repayment incentive totaling up to $25,000 over the first three years of employment. The incentive will be in addition to the standard compensation package that the Providence Public School District (PPSD) offers all teachers.

The district hopes to hire more than 125 minority teachers over the next five years through the program. PPSD hires approximately 175 new teachers a year, generally to fill vacancies due to retirements or movement to other districts.

Full-time teachers who identify as Black, Asian, Indigenous, Latino or multi-racial are eligible for the loan repayment program. They must be new hires to Providence public schools—current teachers are not eligible.

This initiative builds off of the work of the R.I. Department of Education (RIDE) has done to convene and retain educators of color statewide in Rhode Island.

The goal is to recruit approximately 25 new teachers of color a year for five years beginning in the 2021-22 academic year. Participants are eligible to have up to $6,000 of their college loan debt paid off after completing year one of teaching, up to an additional $8,500 after completing year two and up to another $10,500 after completing year three.

The donors are Judith and William Braden, Nancy and Charlie Dunn, Ruth and Jonathan Fain, Bhikhaji Maneckji, the Papitto Opportunity Connection, the Partnership for Rhode Island, The Stonehouse Mountain Family Fund and Jyothi and Shivan Subramaniam.

PPSD is using a multi-year $220,000 grant from the Foundation to hire a Diversity and Pipeline Design Specialist to coordinate all efforts related to the recruitment of teachers of color, including collaborating with existing teacher certification programs and developing supports for retention.

In addition, The Equity Institute received a $125,000 grant to help a diverse group of non-certified teaching assistants to become state certified teachers in partnership with College Unbound.

RI Foundation COVID-19 Response Fund Awards Additional $550,000 in Grants

The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded an additional $550,000 in grants from its COVID-19 Response Fund to help Rhode Islanders cope with the continuing effects of the pandemic. With these most recent grants, Foundation has awarded $7.3 million in grants since launching the fund nearly one year ago.

The latest recipients include the Dorcas International Institute in Providence, Operation Stand Down in Johnston, the Samaritans in Pawtucket, Turning Around Ministries in Newport and the WARM Shelter in Westerly.  Bradley Hospital, Crossroads Rhode Island, the Da Vinci Center, the Housing Network, the Interfaith Counseling Center, New Englanders Helping Our Veterans, Project Undercover, Project Weber/RENEW, R.I. Legal Services, the R.I. Parent Information Network, Sacred Heart Elderly Day Care and Women’s Refugee Care also received grants.

The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund was launched in March 2020 initially in partnership with the United Way of Rhode Island. The $7.3 million in grants awarded to date reflect just the grantmaking by the Foundation. Nearly 150 nonprofits received grants. See the list of COVID-19 Response Fund grantees.

Centreville Bank Foundation 2020 Giving Tops $1 Million

With its fourth quarter grant round of $113,861, the Centreville Bank Charitable Foundation awarded a total of $1,063,861 in grants for 2020, the largest annual giving amount in bank history.

“There is a critical need for financial support for many charitable organizations throughout Rhode Island and Connecticut, particularly as the pandemic continues, said Horvat. “We are fortunate to be in a financial position to support them as they help the most vulnerable populations with everything from health care, food, shelter and other basic needs, to education and literacy.”

The latest grants to 15 organizations in Rhode Island and Connecticut, included Beautiful Day, Community Preparatory School, Coventry Housing Associates Corporation, Cranston Public Library, Day One, Friends of CASA, House of Hope, Reach Out and Read Rhode Island and United Way of Rhode Island.